reference

1 of 3

noun

ref·​er·​ence ˈre-fərn(t)s How to pronounce reference (audio)
ˈre-f(ə-)rən(t)s
1
: the act of referring or consulting
2
: a bearing on a matter : relation
in reference to your recent letter
3
: something that refers: such as
b
: something (such as a sign or indication) that refers a reader or consulter to another source of information (such as a book or passage)
c
: consultation of sources of information
4
: one referred to or consulted: such as
a
: a person to whom inquiries as to character or ability can be made
b
: a statement of the qualifications of a person seeking employment or appointment given by someone familiar with the person
c(1)
: a source of information (such as a book or passage) to which a reader or consulter is referred
(2)
: a work (such as a dictionary or encyclopedia) containing useful facts or information

reference

2 of 3

adjective

: used or usable for reference
especially : constituting a standard for measuring or constructing

reference

3 of 3

verb

referenced; referencing

transitive verb

1
a
: to supply with references
b
: to cite in or as a reference
2
: to put in a form (such as a table) adapted to easy reference

Example Sentences

Noun references to an earlier event The numbers were calculated by reference to the most recent census. Reference to a map will make the position clear. She listed her former teacher as a reference when she applied for the job. Her former teacher gave her a reference when she applied for the job. Her teacher gave her a letter of reference. Adjective a list of reference materials Verb The book references many other authors who have written on this topic. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Only one State Department statement issued from Washington appears to have used the term, a Sept. 10 reference to a visit to Türkiye by Rashad Hussain, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Vivian Salama, WSJ, 27 Nov. 2022 Without being asked, Saban made reference to the decision when speaking Monday about Williams. Mike Rodak | Mrodak@al.com, al, 21 Nov. 2022 According to the report, obtained by The Pine Bluff Commercial, Whitfield made reference to three incidents of alleged misuse of taxpayer dollars: • $20,000 spent to pay off a citizen's bill. Eplunus Colvin, Arkansas Online, 19 Nov. 2022 Dallas is always sharing sweet tributes to Goodwin on social media and his Valentine's Day tribute in 2018 made special reference to their Once Upon a Time roots. Kelsie Gibson, Peoplemag, 16 Nov. 2022 Musk has made multiple reference to gaming when describing Twitter’s future. Nathan Grayson, Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2022 During the late 1960s and early 1970s, songs whose lyrics made reference to faith regularly made the Top 40. David W. Stowe, The Conversation, 10 Nov. 2022 Kelly's campaign made no reference to Victor or to Libertarians in a statement after the move. Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic, 1 Nov. 2022 The department specifically made reference to photographing voters at drop box sites, sometimes by armed vigilantes. Tom Hamburger And Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Nov. 2022
Adjective
The gallery’s wall configuration, which has been fixed for quite some time, has now been opened up in refreshingly spacious ways that allow a viewer to visually cross-reference paintings. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 19 Nov. 2022 This is despite progress; many country national climate action plans now cross-reference gender, and country delegations include more women. Catherine Mckenna, Scientific American, 8 Nov. 2022 Some problems occurred because the system didn’t properly cross-reference country codes used on a money-laundering watchlist with the country codes used to process wire transfers, the SEC said. Richard Vanderford, WSJ, 20 May 2022 State officials regularly cross-reference voting records with BMV records, which list someone’s citizenship status on their driver’s license. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, 12 July 2021 This process sees them cross-reference lists of the dead from the Washington Department of Health and the Social Security Administration. Tim Gruver, Washington Examiner, 11 Dec. 2020 The access could help OFAC cross-reference information with other investigators, including those in the U.S. intelligence community, said Mr. Lorber, a former senior adviser to the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Jack Hagel, WSJ, 7 Sep. 2020
Verb
With 75 recipes, vibrant photography and essays on topics that reference their outlook on justice, this is Ghetto Gastro’s manifesto and love letter to their global community. Los Angeles Times, 11 Nov. 2022 Matthew Perry is apologizing for passages in his forthcoming book Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing that reference Keanu Reeves. Ryan Gajewski, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Oct. 2022 Alongside her husband, Paul Lazar, Parson creates works that reference other art forms: performance art about composers, plays about Anton Chekhov stories, modern dances about ballet. Rebecca Ritzel, Washington Post, 20 Oct. 2022 Lench said the defense can reference the email and allude to a personal matter but not mention the California governor. Maane Khatchatourian, Variety, 17 Oct. 2022 Zendaya did reference Holland when she was interviewed by E! Aimée Lutkin, ELLE, 9 Oct. 2022 This fall’s new range of Christie sneakers reference running shoes from the 1990s and are made using a combination of soft nappa leather and calfskin with shock-absorbent EVA cushioning soles. Benedict Browne, Robb Report, 4 Oct. 2022 Beyond the approach’s sustainability estimates, the Oxford team went on to cross-reference its results with the standard nutrition metric NutriScore. K.e.d. Coan, Ars Technica, 23 Sep. 2022 Many of the letters reference an Oregon woman’s lawsuit against Oregon’s secretary of state, Shemia Fagan, that alleges foreign interference in elections and flaws in cybersecurity, echoing election denier talking points. oregonlive, 17 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reference.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

Noun

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1856, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1876, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of reference was in 1579

Dictionary Entries Near reference

Cite this Entry

“Reference.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reference. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

reference 1 of 2

noun

ref·​er·​ence ˈref-ərn(t)s How to pronounce reference (audio)
ˈref-(ə-)rən(t)s
1
: the act of referring
2
: a relation to or concern with something : respect
with reference to what was said
3
a
: a remark referring to something : allusion
made reference to our agreement
b
: a sign or indication referring a reader to another book or portion of a written work
c
: use as sources of information
volumes for ready reference
4
a
: a person to whom questions as to another person's honesty or ability can be addressed
b
: a statement of the qualifications of a person seeking employment or appointment given by someone familiar with them
c
: a book, document, or portion of a written work to which a reader is referred

reference

2 of 2

adjective

: used or usable for reference
a reference point

Medical Definition

reference 1 of 2

adjective

ref·​er·​ence ˈref-(ə-)rən(t)s How to pronounce reference (audio)
: of known potency and used as a standard in the biological assay of a sample of the same drug of unknown strength
a dose of reference cod-liver oil

reference

2 of 2

Legal Definition

reference

noun

ref·​er·​ence ˈre-frəns, -fə-rəns How to pronounce reference (audio)
1
: an act of referring
specifically : mention or citation of one document (as a statute) in another
a municipality may adopt by reference all or a part of this title Alaska Statutes
see also incorporate
2
: a referral especially to a legislative committee or master
also : an order referring a matter to a master
the extent to which any party is more responsible than other parties for the reference to a master Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 53(g)

More from Merriam-Webster on reference

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